Sunday, August 1, 2010

BookTalks Through Blogging

Grade 9 - English

I have designed the literature portion my classes based on Nancy Atwell's Reading Workshop ideas from her book In the Middle. I read this amazing book as an undergraduate in the late 1980's, but started my teaching career using very traditional instructional practices. Then I took a young adult literature class and loved it. I reread In the Middle and still pondered how I could implement Atwell's ideas. I kept reading young adult literature and building my classroom library and finally established an elective course called "Reading Workshop". The reading success these students had was something I knew I had to share with more than just a handful of kids each semester. I wanted to use the reading workshop technique in all my classes.

So last year after twenty-one years of thinking about Nancy Atwell's work, I did it. I have created a pretty impressive classroom library, (Some people buy shoes or purses; I buy books!) and all 82 of my English 9 students are reading books they have selected. They have control of what they read and read they do! My students read an average of 29 novels each last year! Sure I have some kinks to work out and one I think can be worked out by using blogs.

If students are all reading a different book, it makes conversation a bit challenging. If they talk about the book aloud in class, they may give away the ending to someone who hasn't yet read it. And we all know if they just write to me about it, the whole teacher audience of one isn't the most exciting thing in the world. By blogging about the book they are reading, my hope is that they will be chatting with others who have read the book. I think connecting with other students will be exciting for them. I think it will be beneficial for them to see what other teens think about the characters and conflicts. It is my hope that blogging about books will lead to great conversations and reflection and way beyond "I liked the book. It was good."

The assignment would fit numerous of Ohio's Content Standards for Reading and Writing. These include: self-selecting reading material, identifying literary techniques, responding to literature through informal/journal writing.


  1. I agree and think that your students will really respond positively to this change. It will allow and nudge students to describe their views more in depth, which perhaps isn't brought out in class discussion due to time restraints or timid students. This allows everyone to get an equal turn, and to focus on what they are interested in.

  2. I think this is a great idea. It's like a virtual coffee klatch or book club where your students can extend their school day using the site from home. When we started using Moodle at my old district, we were absolutely surprised by the number of logons that we had in the evenings and over the weekend. Provide resources like these and the kids will use them during off hours.

  3. So many students do not feel comfortable sharing out their ideas and sometimes their choice of book verbally. Using a blog will allow them to do so and review their choice of words before posting. I am anxious to try this with my fourth graders as they too are allowed a wide choice of books to read.

  4. I am going to do a similar project (book club). I really like your idea.

  5. Jeanette, I love this idea! Have you seen this tool? Might be another tool you could incorporate.